1. Shaking hands when sick.
The Dean of the Students at the Business School in my undergrad used to “pound” students’ fists. At first I thought he used to do it because he was cool. Later, he told me that he did it because you pass over less germs that way. What a genius. The hands go through so much – touching food, touching your face, wiping yourself clean after you’ve used the rest room, etc. So yes, the hands are a site for germs but even more so, when you’re sick. If you’re sick, please don’t extend your hand out to anyone. Simply politely say, “Sorry not feeling well. Don’t want you to feel sick too.” If you see that someone else is sick, don’t extend your hand out either and if they do, say the same thing, “Sorry not feeling well.” I know. Lying is terrible. But I for one will never be well enough to shake someone’s hand when they are sick. And if you think of some awkward situation where it wouldn’t be appropriate, I can tell you that during “peace” time where we shake hands at church has been many an awkward time for me. Suck it up.
2. Sharing drinks.
When I was a little child, my mum taught me not to share drinks “mouth-to-mouth” because that’s how diseases are spread. Look, I know it’s not the most scientific thing on the planet that you will get a disease from sharing drinks but the mouth is another site for germs (and I’m pretty sure my doctor told me that). If you want to know how healthy someone is, you just have to look to their oral health. Anyway, let me not get off-topic. Can we please stop sharing drinks? As a child, I had no qualms telling people I would absolutely not share my drink “mouth-to-mouth” because you know, my mama told me so. As an adult, that excuse might not fly too well and not wanting to come off as a snob doesn’t help. If you want a sip of my drink, get a straw or “air-mouth” it. Because I feel really bad (and deprived) when I have to not drink my drink and look for the next moment when you’re not looking to get a new straw or wipe it off with a napkin. Look I don’t think you’re a terrible person, I just don’t know what you’ve been doing with your mouth and I don’t want to find out by getting sick.
3. Kissing randos.
Speaking of mouths, can we please be more careful about whose mouths we are kissing? I am fully aware that I am going to be made fun of for this and you know what? I don’t care. My friends call me a prude about this all the time and they’re right, I am a prude; a healthy prude. Plus, I’m one of those strange people who thinks that kissing someone should be you know, meaningful. Romanticism aside, when you kiss someone, you are coming into contact with their germs, especially when you’re exchanging each other’s saliva because that’s exactly what is happens when you’re French kissing. So yes, I think that it would do us some good to wonder about the state of our oral health. And as a nurse practioner reminded me earlier this year when she was testing me for strep, “…And if you see someone with a sore on or near their mouth, don’t kiss him. You could get a nasty disease.” (Said in her wonderful Caribbean accent, this remark was golden.) I suppose asking someone for their last oral health analysis prior to kissing them would not be best, but there are creative ways to peek into someone’s mouth prior to kissing them. For example, I like making guys I’m interested in laugh. Yes, I want to see if they get my sense of humor but I also want to take a peek and see if there’s anything in their mouth I should be aware of. You know, for health reasons. Call me uptight; call me what’d you like but when it comes to health, I don’t mess around. I’d rather be offensive than sick.